Friday, 30 August — Wadi Musa
A quick trip to Jordan.
In a time of uncertainty in the Middle East, Jordan emerges as one of the calmest countries in the region, and actually one of the safest in the world (in terms of crime and violence.)
It happens once you arrive; displays of unsurpassed hospitality. “Welcome to Jordan!” is the expression phrase everywhere, often followed by “Special price!”
Jordan is my first experience in a nonwestern country. At first I am very nervous. Having arrived on Friday means it is the day of rest and the country seems very empty and exotic. Many are praying and walking to and from the mosque. Everyone is staring at me. At first, I think everyone hates me, but later, I learn that people are just curious. After all, Jordan has only recently become a hot-spot for tourism; and the idea of foreigners walking around town is still a bit of a novelty for the average Jordanian.
As I lay on the terrace roof tom of the Musa Springs Hotel, I look up at the stars. I listen to the sounds of children laughing, screaming. Remembering past thoughts. Now thinking of future thoughts.
Saturday, 31 August — Petra
I buy at ticket to Petra and walk all over.
Sunday, 1 September — Petra
Monday, 2 September — Wadi Rum
We wake early and head to the bus station, which is nothing more than a couple of mid-sized buses parked on a dirt lot. Many folks are scurrying around with no apparent destination. Each bus has a boy calling out the destion name of each bus.
“Amman, Amman, Amman!” yells one boy.
“Al-Jafr, Al-Jafr, Al-Jafr!” exclaims another.
“Wadi Rum, Wadi Rum, Wadi Rum!” Finally we find our boy.
We eagerly greet the boy. Our bags are lifted to the top of the bus and tied down and we board the board bus at 8:30am. Forty-five minutes pass and we still haven’t left. I begin to shift around impatiently.
“He’s waiting for the bus to fill more before we leave,” says a patient local sitting a row behind us. Around 9:45 we pull out of the station but instead of leaving town we simply drive around for a bit, return to the bus station and wait more. At 10:15 we finally leave. Some of the windows are slightly open and I feel content feeling the warm breeze and watching the desrt scenry buzz by. About twenty minutes into our drive we aburptly pull over to the side of the road where a mud house sits, in the middle of no where. Some locals are relaxing in chairs around a wobbly metal table on a make-shift patio out front. They are drinking orange Fanta from glass bottles.
“What the heck now?” I both ask and exclaim.
“He is going to pray,” says the patient man behind us. “It will take some time.”
I look out the window at our driver. Instead of praying, he is sitting on the patio and having some Fanta with everyone. I check my wathc and become frustrated because I may miss my tour to Wadi Rum. After some time our drive gets up and enters the house. Ten minutes later our driver emerges, a look of peace fills his face. With both hands our driver shakes a warm goodbyes to the patio folks, boards our bus and we drive off, blowing dust all over the patio and people. No one seems to notice but me.
We finally arrive to Wadi Rum where we find some men with Toyota Hiluxes who eagerly agree to show us the splendors of Wadi Rum. We take off into the desert for a three-hour tour. My tour shows the highlights of the valley and beautiful desert formations. At one point we stop for some tea at a Bedouine tent. The tent is sponsored by Wadi Rum Association Incorporation Tourism. It’s a pleasant touch.
Our limited time here has been magnificent, but it is not enough time to absorb everything. I will have to return.
After our tour we grab another bus to Aqaba, cross the border, and we are back in Israel. This trip to Jordan was way too brief.